by Bruce Manske
The inaugural Igor Legacy Camp was held over Father’s Day weekend (June 2014) at the Iola Winter Sports Club in Iola, Wisconsin. Over sixty young Midwest athletes, along with more than twenty coaches, parents, and collegiate skiers from the central region attended the camp. The athletes who participated were mostly 10-14 years of age, with a few exceptions above and below that group. Unlike most junior camps, the Igor Legacy Camp was shorter, and provided a simple introduction to ski training. In the typical style of Igor Badamshin, the camp was centered on fun and physical movement. It was purposely designed to get youngsters, who are relatively new to Nordic skiing, engaged in rollerskiing and Nordic technique activities. Other aspects of this unique summer training camp included running, soccer, swimming, and strength training activities.
On a chilly winter afternoon in January 2014, the ski community lost a good friend; as a result, the concept of the Igor Legacy Camp became a reality thanks to Minocqua ski enthusiast Dr. Jim Mullen. Igor Badamshin was 46 years young when he died from a heart attack while testing wax for the Seeley Hills Classic. In his few short years, Badamshin became a strong advocate for youth skiing in the Midwest; and, almost single handedly, he recharged the adult skiing community wherever he went in Wisconsin.
According to Mullen, “Badamshin made an impact on a lot of kids. Although he did not know most of the kids at this camp, through his work with others, he let these new Nordic athletes experience a little of the joy and happiness, that he brought to everyone around him before and now.”
While Mullen had lost a dear friend, he knew that the creation of something in Igor’s honor would be the best way to recognize his countless contributions. Mullen put together a coaching staff of many talented Nordic coaches and Nordic enthusiasts; including, Diane Mullen, Bill Pierce, Steve Myrland, Yuriy Gusev, Jake Barnes, Mike Young, and Gordy Bartholomew; plus, three guest collegiate skiers, William Frielinghaus, Seth Mares, and Thomas Bye, to help focus on refining and sharpening athletic development. The camp featured a mixture of movement patterns: jumping, hopping, skipping, running, bounding, spinning, and swinging.
“If I were to give the camp a theme, it would be simple,” stated Pierce, “Enjoy moving and enjoy life!” Pierce continued, “Igor’s goal was not to be a great trainer or skier, but to teach the love for the outdoors and skiing; his Russian accent could often be heard encouraging young skiers, to keep moving, moving, moving…”
The Igor Legacy Camp concept continues to grow, not just at summer camps, but also as a lifestyle and a celebration of athleticism throughout the entire year.
The Igor Legacy Camps are now offered in three states: Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Michigan, providing opportunities for young skiers to learn about teamwork, training, and outdoor fun with their peers and coaches from across the Midwest.
Each camp offers something special, depending on the geography of the venue, but the highlights will stay the same: a tribute to Igor, lots of movement activities and games, meeting new Nordic friends, and enjoying time in nature. One thing each participant can be guaranteed, during the three days and two nights of camp, they will only stop moving to eat and sleep.
Igor Badamshin was known mostly as a long distance skier; he won his only major international medal in a relay, as a member of the Russian relay team that won bronze at the 1993 World Championships. His best individual finish at a major international tournaments was fifth, which he achieved twice: the 50 km freestyle at the 1989 World Championships and the 30 km classical style at the 1993 World Championships. During his career, Badamshin also competed at the 1994 Winter Olympics, and the 1991 and 1995 World Championships. He had one podium position in a World Cup event, earning a silver medal in the 50 km classic at Calgary in 1989. His best overall World Cup finish was 15th during the 1989-1990 season.
In Russia, Badamshin won the Soviet 50 km title in 1988, 50 km, 70 km, and relay titles in 1989, a 15 km title in 1990, and CIS 50 km title in 1992. Badamshin retired from sports in 1997. In the early 2000s, he and his wife, Nina Gavrylyuk, a three-time Olympic gold medal winner in cross-country skiing, moved to Wisconsin in the United States. Together they coached many cross-country skiers. Igor joined the coaching staff at CXC from 2009-2014.
Each Igor camp continues to promote the growth and development of junior cross-country ski racers, with the goal of exposing young athletes to the fundamental building blocks required to advance up the Nordic pipeline. Athletes will be inspired and excited about skiing in the same manner Igor seized the sport, while participating in games, rollerskiing, hiking, swimming, and much more.
The Igor Legacy Camps are primarily aimed at U12 (ages 10-11) and U14 (ages 12-13) athletes; these age categories are guidelines, and have room for flexibility, depending on the needs of an individual athlete and athletic development. This is an age when athletes need to focus on sharpening their skill development for general athletics; whereas, once an athlete reaches 15 years old, focus will be geared more toward a specific sport. In addition, it is a great age for youngsters from different teams and clubs to come together to share skiing stories and training opportunities.
Thanks to the support of great sponsors, including the American Birkebeiner Ski Foundation, the Wisconsin Nordic Development Group, Out There Nordic Sports, FinnSisu Ski Shop, Boulder Nordic Sports, Gear West and Central Cross Country Skiing the Igor Legacy Camps continue to grow and expand the scope of cross-country skiing and youth development.